Does an employer need to obtain an employee's written agreement to be furloughed?

To furlough an employee under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an employer must obtain their agreement to do no work while they are furloughed. If they are on flexible furlough, they must agree to a reduction to their normal hours and to do no work during their furloughed hours.

The employee can agree to be furloughed verbally, provided that this is followed by written confirmation of the agreement from the employer. The guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme published by HM Revenue and Customs states that "the employee does not have to provide a written response".

The agreement, or confirmation of the agreement, can be in an electronic format such as an email. The agreement can also be made by means of a collective agreement between the employer and the relevant trade union.